REVIEWS: Katy Perry, Donna Summer

Posted on 13 Nov 2013 at 12:34pm

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New music is coming out fast and furious lately, so here are a few more CDs to check out.

Katy Perry, PrismDamn you, divorce. You went and made Katy Perry all grown-up. Where’s the fireworks? The teenage dreams? The California girl? They’re few and far between on Perry’s third major release, where her personal woes become cathartic self-empowerment anthems and criminally written true-life tales.

Because it is possibly the worst song of Perry’s career, let’s get “Ghost” out of the way. The track wants to be taken seriously. And it is a serious song: Aside from the introspective ballad “By the Grace of God,” it’s the most forward she’s been musically with regard to her relationship with Russell Brand and his text breakup. But these fourth-grade diary scribblings — but you hit send and disappeared in front of my eyes — cheapen any emotion we’re supposed to be feeling. “This is How We Do” is an embarrassment, too, and not because Perry “raps.” Again, its rankness is due to how much the content is dumbed-down with cringe-worthy words about getting nails done all Japanese-y and “sucking real bad at Mariah Carey-oke.

Prism doesn’t suck real bad, though. It has its moments, all of which come early: the galvanizing mantra “Roar” has a chorus so insanely catchy it’s no wonder it ruled the charts since summer; the power ballad “Unconditionally” soars to cosmic heights; and “Legendary Lovers” takes Perry to India, where the mysteriousness of the track, and the sultriness of her feathered voice, is imbued with a surprisingly not-lame Bollywood sound. So, cool. She’s taking artistic risks. But by the end of Prism, you kind of wish Katy were still kissing girls and blasting Reddi-wip from her tits.

Donna Summer, Love to Love You Donna.  Spearheaded by her longtime collaborator and widower, Bruce Sudano, this posthumous tribute to the queen of disco recruits some of the best in the business to put a new spin on the disco gems in the queen’s catalog. It’s a (re)mixed bag. The good: Giorgio Moroder’s euphoric “Love to Love You Baby” and his other contribution, “La Dolce Vita,” a song he’d been working on with Summer before she passed last year that now — with his “we miss her so” intones — serves as an elegy. The not so good: A version of “Last Dance” that just goes to show that some songs of Summer’s should go untouched.

Panic! at the Disco, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!  The arena-pop trio has always prided itself on being odd. And though this isn’t them at their weirdest — or even their best — there are some unexpected turns on the band’s techno-tinged fourth album. Among them, a sample of a Sesame Street jingle on “Vegas Lights,” an EDM track as glittery as the city (the boys’ hometown) they’re celebrating; “Girls/Girls/Boys,” a bisexuality anthem with ’80s spirit; and the brooding standout “Casual Affair,” an electro-rocker that has more in common with Depeche Mode than Panic! at the Disco.

— Chris Azzopardi

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